Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting

held in the Council Chamber, Windmill Lane, Northam


Wednesday 14th April 2004



Chairman – The Town Mayor, Cllr A Barnes

together with 22 Parishioners and County Cllr Collins 


1.         Mayor’s Annual Report


The Town Mayor advised that he had been honoured to take on the role and found it most enjoyable.  The Council had many new Members who were bringing a wider view and the Council is in a sound financial position.  He felt that many organisations would need the support of the Council and he gave thanks to the Residents’ Associations and highlighted the Market and Coastal Towns Initiative.  It was anticipated that the steps to the Windmill Lane car park would shortly be provided, that the Blue Flag application for Westward Ho! beach would be approved and the land behind Windmill Lane passed over to the Town Council.  He had attended many functions all over North Devon and many within the Parish including schools, Youth Groups, Twinning Association and Horticultural Society. 


2.         Reports from County and District Council Ward Members


County Cllr Collins reported on matters affecting the Parish and advised that at the next elections in 2005 there would be one County Councillor for the Parish.  With regard to highways the footpath on Fosketh Hill was now completed and the long awaited footpath from Hanson Park to Riverside Close has been provided.  The traffic and parking problems in Chanters Lane are being investigated by the Police and Highways and a remedy is being sought with a degree of urgency.  Appledore Primary and St George’s Schools have received the Healthy Schools Award, and this is a feather in the cap of these establishments as only 10% of schools in Devon have achieved this.  The re-surfacing of Bay View Road is programmed in this financial year and the second public consultation is scheduled.  Cllr Collins referred to his close co-operation with local Councillors and gave an example of presenting the Queen’s Jubilee Medals to the fire-fighters of Appledore Fire Station.


Cllr Bradford MBE expressed his concerns to Cllr Collins with regard to the recycling centre.  Cllr Collins advised that the money for the site is ring fenced and that he was hopeful that the site at Caddsdown could be achieved. 


Cllr Mrs Mounce, as Chairman of Northam Burrows Committee, advised she had a good working relationship with the Officers.  With regard to the former recycling centre site this still needs work and she was pressing for this to be done.  As a Housing Committee Member she advised that the District Council were carrying out a full appraisal in order to come to a preferred option with regard to the future management of the housing stock.  This may result in the District Council no longer being the landlord.  However, the responsibility for homelessness would remain a function of the District Council.  She serves on the Youth Committees and is Chairman of Bideford Sports Forum which was currently encouraging young people to take up surfing.  She was thankful that the Hanson Park footpath had at long last been provided. 


Cllr Eastman reported that as a District Councillor he serves on the Housing and E & L Committees.  His main concerns at the moment were the sale of plots of land at Tomouth Road and at the Seagate, where the money raised would not be going to housing.  He was also concerned about the skateboard park which has still not been properly resolved even though it had been in existence for three and a half years.  The proposal of Appledore Arts to site statues on the breakwater had been deferred pending the receipt of more information. 


Cllr Ford advised that he also serves on E & L and Housing.  He would be supporting the retention of the skateboard park and was also concerned about the sale of land at Tomouth Road etc. 


Cllr Davies reported that he serves on the E & L, D & T and Scrutiny Committees.  The main issues for Northam had been the application for the Blue Flag, the establishment of Sure Start and the retention of the skateboard park at Appledore.  It was also essential to find land for the cemetery in Northam. 


Cllr Williams, who serves on the Planning Committee, advised that he had tried to persuade the District Council to ensure that the new development on the Bath Hotel site included a percentage of affordable homes.   Unfortunately the Council had agreed to take cash in lieu of the provision and were to receive £860,000 which would be earmarked for affordable homes but not necessarily in this area. 


3.         Reports from Members on outside bodies


Northam Leisure Centre – Cllr Bradford MBE reported that the Centre was let on a regular basis and that there were meals available on Thursdays.


Bideford College Foundation – Cllr Bradford MBE reported that this was linked to the Old Grammar School and that there were 39 silver cups which the Foundation does not know what to do with. 


Blue Lights Hall – Cllr Bell reported that the Committee continued to fund raise and that the Hall was well used. 


Northam Burrows Committee – Cllr Bell reported that he hoped the Biosphere status would influence how the Burrows would be used in the future.  The dog mess was still piling up in the bins.


Taw/Torridge Estuary Forum – Cllr Bell reported that the fast leisure craft problem had not been resolved and that the insurance and other issues needed to be dealt with quickly before the coming season. 


RNLI – Cllr Williams advised that the RNLI could well be involved in the Beach Safety Service in the future.  There was also a change of constitution which has resulted in the Town Council no longer being represented on the RNLI.   The Town Clerk reported that the RNLI Secretary had advised him that over the next two weeks and for four weeks in the summer they would be holding training of beach rescue staff on how to handle personal water craft both rigid and inflatable. 


Northam Twinning Association – Cllr Bradford MBE reported that 40 people from France had come to Northam for celebrations and that there would be twinning with Buddenstedt at the end of September.  He thanked the Mayor for his speech at the Twinning Dinner.


Citizens Advice Bureau – Cllr Mrs Cox reported that the Bureau continues it work and its most important role seemed to be its expertise in giving advice on debt and welfare. 


Torridge Police Liaison Committee – Cllr Mrs Mounce advised that these Committees continued throughout the year at various locations and she urged people to attend them.


4.         Reports from representatives on governing bodies of local schools


St Margaret’s School – Cllr Mrs Mounce reported that the school was functioning well and now had a new Deputy Head.  All required adaptations for the handicapped had been carried out and decoration had been undertaken using the Probation Service.  The school capacity was 240 and there were currently 223 pupils. 


St George’s School – Cllr Mrs Mounce advised that the school was going from strength to strength and had recently won a Healthy Award. 


St Mary’s School – Cllr Mrs Mounce advised that the school was growing and she hoped that the problems over the Head’s suspension would soon be resolved. 


Appledore School – Cllr Eastman reported that the traffic in this area continued to be a problem and that the school was at bursting point and looking for a new site. 


5.         Town Council’s Grazing Advisory Committee


As there were no nominations received it was recommended that the Northam Burrows 1716 Committee be asked to nominate four people to sit on the Committee.


6.         Active Grazier – Northam Burrows Forum


It was recommended that Mrs Tucker be nominated as the Active Grazier to serve on the Northam Burrows Forum.  As no Deputy was nominated it was recommended that the Northam Burrows 1716 Committee be asked to put forward a suitable person.


7.         Matters raised by Parishioners


(a)        Mrs Avery for Appledore Residents’ Association requested that the Town Council write to the District Council on the subject of jet skis launching from Churchfields car park.  It has been noted that the notices prohibiting the launching of jet skis have been removed.  It would appear that the District Council have decided to give up the idea of solving the problem and that the efforts of the Taw and Torridge Estuary Forum are being sabotaged.  There were hopes that at the next Forum meeting something positive would be produced.  Now the jet ski community can inform the Forum that they need no longer talk to them since they had been given freedom by TDC to do as they wish.  It is known that TDC have been considering Byelaws to deal with this problem but what progress has been made is not known.   In any event unless suitable Byelaws are agreed it is premature to remove the notices.  Could we be advised which Committee made this decision and when? 


(b)        Mrs Tucker complained about sand yachts on Westward Ho! beach which travel at high speed and can be extremely dangerous.  They need to operate in an area which is properly cordoned off. 

(c)        Mrs Tucker was concerned about the mess around Skern Bay and in particular the derelict buildings at Hinks’ Boatyard.  She also wondered if the old concrete base of the yard could be made into a useful slipway or similar.  She was also concerned about the sea defences in this area.


(d)        Mrs Slade was concerned about the amount of flotsam, jetsam and general litter which was on the beach immediately over the promenade wall and thought that if we were to retain our seaside award and obtain the Blue Flag this needed to be attended to. 


(e)        Mrs Rowe was concerned about the retention of the skateboard park in Appledore which had now been in existence for about three years.  She thought that the District Council were going to ask the Town Council to cover the cost of insurance and she was urging the Town Council to ensure that the skateboard park was not lost.